Ardallie and Longhaven schools could face closure

Two Buchan schools could be considered for closure as Aberdeenshire Council looks to make further cuts.

As many as 19 schools in Aberdeenshire may be at risk including Ardallie and Longhaven which successfuly fought closure several years ago.

The council’s education committee backed a review of its 151 schools on May 19 which will “carefully scrutinise” schools with fewer than 19 pupils and those whose numbers are likely to fall.

A report to the committee identified a range of factors which would be taken into account including economic and educational issues as well as the condition of the school building.

Ardallie enrolled just 17 pupils in 2010 making it one of the smallest schools in the area.

Longhaven is considered a category ‘B’ school which means that the building itself is in acceptable condition and suitable for up to 60% more pupils than its current 19.

Peterhead South & Cruden councillor Stephen Smith said: “With the new Aberdeenshire Local Development Plan set to designate land in the village for new housing in the very near future it would be short-sighted indeed to make any decisions on the future of the school at this time.”

Longhaven faced closure in 2005 but was saved at the last minute due to opposition from parents and the surrounding community.

“Longhaven is a very highly-regarded and valued school with excellent teaching staff,” said Cllr Smith. “Any closure plans would, I am sure, be met with the same resistance once more.”

The council is expected to complete its review by mid October and promises that parents and staff will be widely consulted before any final decision is made.

Councillor Martin Ford said: “There are issues with the school estate and it is right that the Council conducts a conversation with the public on what approach to take.

“It should be doing that on the wider issue of how to cope with the budget reductions resulting from cuts to its grant and the Council Tax freeze.”